June 12, 2014
Dear Friends of the Kino Border Initiative:
As many of you are aware, a high number of migrant children, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, have been crossing the U.S.-Mexico border recently into South Texas. They flee violence and extreme poverty in their countries of origin, and many seek to be reunified with their parents in the United States.
Last Thursday, June 5, I found out that some of these children were being transported from South Texas to Arizona by plane, and then taken by bus to the U.S. Border Patrol Station in Nogales, Arizona. This decision was made due to the high number of children being detained and a lack of space to receive them. On the same day, I spoke twice by phone with a Border Patrol representative and asked for permission to visit, to assess the needs of the children. At that time, I was not allowed to have access to the children.
I have had a number of conversations with Rev. David Myers, Senior Adviser to FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) to request a plan to outline the needs of the children and a process to solicit and receive donations. While I have been promised that the plan is forthcoming, I still have not received it as of today.
On Tuesday, June 10, I attended a meeting with representatives of the Santa Cruz County Emergency Management team, to discuss the situation and to strategize ways to help.
Yesterday, Wednesday, June 11, I was granted permission to visit the U.S. Border Patrol Station, along with local and federal government representatives. We were given a briefing and were able to tour the place where the children are staying, though we were not able to speak with the children. However, we were able to see some of the young people going to lunch. Most are teenagers but there are a smaller number of younger children. Based on the way they looked and on the facilities that had been set up, their physical needs seem to be met. Their psychological and spiritual well-being is less clear to me, due to the inability to speak and interact with the young people.
It looks like migrant children will continue to arrive in Nogales in the foreseeable future. The KBI remains very committed to collaborating with other churches and organizations to address the needs of these children. We will keep urging the federal government to work with us to provide direction and focus, so we offer assistance in the most effective way possible.
I continue to be grateful for your prayers and generous support of the KBI.
Rev. Sean Carroll, S.J.